In most sports, it is very tough to predict who will win a championship at season’s end. That is certainly the case in the NFL, in college basketball and football, and in MLB. But the 2016-17 NBA season appears to only have a couple of contenders that can win it all, and any other team that were to prove victorious would be a huge shocker.
Oddsmakers believe it is very likely that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will meet in the championship round for a third consecutive season. The Warriors only got better with the addition of Kevin Durant, and Lebron James has made six consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.
You can find the Warriors at as the -150 favorites to be crowned champions. Rarely will you see futures odds this early in the season where you have to actually bet more money than you are going to profit if you were to bet it. To win $100 on the Warriors, you’d have to wager $150. That just gives you an idea of how big of favorites they actually are.
The return on investment on the Cavaliers (+250) wouldn’t be much better. You would get back $250 on a $100 bet if Cleveland was to go on and repeat as pro basketball champions. There has been a lot of turmoil in Cleveland this year as James wants more help, but as long as they stay healthy, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to get back to the title round.
The next team in line is the Spurs at +750. Greg Popovich just recently clinched the 20th consecutive winning season for San Antonio. It’s a remarkable feat, and they’ve done it with an aging roster and without Tim Duncan. Kawhi Leonard has taken his game to an MVP-caliber level to really ignite this team.
The Rockets (+1600) have been the surprise of the league this season as James Harden and company have adapted to Mike D’Antoni’s system perfectly. They will be a very tough out in the playoffs as they can score at will on anyone, but can they play enough defense to survive and advance? That will be the question come playoff time.
In the East, it appears to be the Celtics (+2200), Raptors (+3300) and Wizards (+4000) as the three teams likely to challenge Cleveland. Boston has seen Isaiah Thomas become a star, the Raptors have one of the highest-scoring guard duos in the league in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and nobody is playing as well as the Wizards as of this writing.